Notable Court Cases

Lau v. Nichols (1974)
This case was a landmark case during which the U.S Supreme Court made one of its first interpretations of the term "appropriate action". In 1974 the court ruled that a school district based in San Francisco had violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by denying students of Chinese descent opportunities to participate in classes. The court decided that just providing the students with the same textbooks, desks, and teachers was not sufficient, and measures, such as instruction in both Chinese and English, needed to be taken to make sure that English was taught to non-English speaking students.

Castañeda v. Pickard (1981)
In 1981 the U.S Fifth Circuit of Appeals created a three-prong test to be used to determine whether or not school officials denied students not proficient in English the right to enjoy equal educational opportunities. Under this test, an acceptable program for English-language learners is as follows:
A curriculum is recognized by experts in the field;
The programs or methods used are effective in carrying out the curriculum;
The program proves successful in helping to overcome language barriers.
The court ruled that students learning English as their second language should be able to receive the rest of the school's educational opportunities regardless of any language barriers.

Plyler v. Doe (1982)
In 1982 the court ruled that public school districts could not deny immigrant students from receiving a free public education. The court also ruled that not only do undocumented children have the right to receive the same public education, but that they are also required, like U.S. citizens and permanent residents, to attend school until they are of age as laid down by the state law.

Public schools and school personnel are also not allowed to adopt measures that would prevent students from receiving access to public education based on their citizenship status. For example, the court ruled that school officials cannot legally ask students to present proof of citizenship such as green cards. Instead, they can only ask the student to provide proof that they reside within the boundaries of the school district.

Keyes v. School District 1 (1983)
In 1983 the three-part test created in the Castañeda v. Pickard was used to decide that a school district in Denver, Colorado, had participated in intentionally separating white students from Mexican-American students. The court ordered for desegregation.

United States v. State of Texas (1982)
In 1982 the Court ruled that the state of Texas had failed to provide opportunities for English learners, mainly of Latino descent, to overcome language barriers under the EEOA. State education agencies adopted bilingual services to be provided for those learning how to speak English.

Idaho Migrant Council v. Board of Education (1981)
In 1981 the U.S. Ninth Circuit ruled that state education departments needed to enforce federal mandates in local school districts.

Flores v. Arizona (2000)
This case was first filed in 1992 from parents accusing schools for failing to provide adequate enough educational services for English language learners and in 2000, the court ruled that educational programs were not properly funded nor were enough teachers provided. As a result, the court ruled for sufficient educational resources to be implemented as of January 31, 2002, and in 2009, the Court ruled that the EEOA was officially violated.